Obama spurns help from oil and gas in US fiscal struggles

Bob Tippee

For anyone who thought US President Barack Obama might treat oil and gas resource development as helpful in the nation’s budget struggles, two words should be enlightening: fat chance.

In his Apr. 13 speech on fiscal policy at George Washington University, the president disparaged Republican fiscal policy as mistreatment of the poor and elderly then recommitted himself to an agenda that cost his party mightily in the last general election.

Typical in Obama’s speech was this contrivance, taken straight from the Democratic field guide to class warfare: “They [Republicans] want to give people like me a $200,000 tax cut that’s paid for by asking 33 seniors each to pay $6,000 more in health costs.”

Has the nation not had its costly fill of prattle like that?

Apparently, Obama thinks it has not. He dedicated most of his 44-min speech to political moralizing and self-puffery, acting concerned more about his reelection campaign than about solvency of the federal government.

He touted four steps, some proceeding from mistakes already in place, such as health-care reform rushed into law last year and already unraveling. Other offerings were continuation of spending cuts recently agreed by Congress, decreased defense spending, and increased taxation of the wealthy.

Otherwise, it’s business as usual for Obama. This bodes ominously for the oil and gas industry. Although he didn’t mention oil or gas, Obama did refer to his budget proposal and commitment to “clean energy” as bases for fiscal policy.

That means raising taxes on oil and gas and subsidizing “clean” alternatives for the express purpose of displacing hydrocarbon energy with expensive substitutes.

The formulation would not yield fiscal health. It would create economic inefficiency and lower production of—and tax, royalty, and fee payments from—commercial energy. As fiscal policy, this is unsound.

Obama has made his priorities clear. He will build his reelection campaign around an economic program notable for antagonism toward oil and gas, expansion of the role of government, and disintegrating public support.

(Online Apr. 15, 2011; author’s e-mail: bobt@ogjonlne.com)

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